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Track and Field

Irish kick off outdoor season in Texas

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After a earning a pair of top-30 finishes March 15 at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Notre Dame returns to the track Wednesday, kicking off its outdoor season with the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas, and the Victor Lopez Invitational in Houston.

The Irish are currently riding a wave of momentum, as not only did the men’s and women’s teams finish in 17th and 29th place, respectively, at the NCAA meet, but they also had 12 athletes honored as NCAA All-Americans for their performances.

One pair in particular stood out for the Irish — senior sprinter Patrick Feeney and junior sprinter Chris Giesting, both of whom earned All-American status in multiple events. Feeney was rewarded for the distance medley relay, 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay, while Giesting placed in the latter two events as well.

ZACH LLORENS | The Observer Fifth-year student Jeremy Rae takes his mark at the Meyo  Invitational on Feb. 8.  Rae won the Meyo Mile for the Irish.Zachary Llorens
Fifth-year student Jeremy Rae takes his mark at the Meyo
Invitational on Feb. 8. Rae won the Meyo Mile for the Irish.
For the Irish women, junior hurdler Jade Barber added a fifth All-American citation to her career accolades.

The Irish had a 10-day break after the NCAAs, but with this week’s trip down to Texas, the outdoor season officially starts. Irish coach Joe Piane said his team was only motivated by, not satisfied with, its indoor success and that it believes it can improve on its performance this June at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, particularly with the additions of some favorable events.

“One way we’re going to improve the overall team is that we’re going to gain some events,” Piane said. “We’re going to lose the men’s weight, but we’re significantly better at men’s hammer and discus. Those events don’t exist indoors. I think we’re going to be a better track team outdoors.”

The Irish return a plethora of experienced throwers including seniors Jordan Stumph, Peter Kristiansen and Andrew Brock, but Piane said he also expects the addition of discus to allow one of the Irish freshmen to shine.

“Anthony Shivers was one of the top discus throwers in the country last year as a senior in high school,” Piane said. “So he’s clearly, clearly going to be a benefit to us. He’s one young man that could potentially make it to the NCAAs next year.”

The transition to an outdoor track will not be the only change for the Irish when they travel to Texas, as several runners will compete in new races during the outdoor season. Piane said he looks forward to see which athletes can adjust and possibly take the next step this week.

“I think you’ll see freshman Jacob Dumford run well,” Piane  “He’s transitioning from middle distance to the steeplechase. I’m anxious to see how he does there. I think you’re going find [senior middle-distance runner] Alexa Aragon moving to the steeplechase as well — that will help her a great deal. I think we’re going to see a lot of new faces.”

Notre Dame faces long trips to Houston and Austin, but with both cities’ forecasts calling for sunny, 70-degree weather, Piane said the Irish are not complaining.

“It’ll be great,” Piane said. “It’ll be wonderful to run in the sun. We’re really looking forward to it.”

The Texas sun will welcome the Irish for their first outdoor competition of 2014 Wednesday, as Irish athletes participate at both the Victor Lopez Invitational in Houston and the Texas Relays in Austin.

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